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American League Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, September 26th (All times Eastern)
Tampa Bay Rays (89-69) at New York Yankees (82-76), 7:05 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Tampa Bay - Alex Cobb (10-3, 2.90) New York - Ivan Nova (9-5, 3.13)
(Sports Network) - Mariano Rivera's final Yankee Stadium appearance is coming a littler sooner than he had hoped
One day after being eliminated from postseason contention, baseball's all- time saves leader says goodbye to the Bronx and tries to help the Yankees salvage the finale of their three-game series with the playoff hopeful Tampa Bay Rays.
Rivera, who will be retiring at season's end, may have made his mark in the playoffs, as he pitched to an amazing 0.70 ERA over 141 innings, but for only the second time in his remarkable 18-year career the Yankees won't be playing in the postseason.
"I'm not used to pitching for something that doesn't mean anything," Rivera said. "I wanted to pitch for something that means something. The fans, to me, are special. They are special. I'll be there. I'll be there tomorrow, hopefully, God willing, and there for the fans. They deserve it."
It's unclear if Rivera will pitch this weekend when the Yankees close their season in Houston.
New York's playoff hopes were officially dashed on Wednesday, as Evan Longoria launched a pair of homers, scored three times and knocked in four runs and Tampa Bay Rays remained atop the AL wild-card standings with an 8-3 win.
It's only the second time in 19 years the Yankees won't be in the postseason.
"It's never easy," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We worked really hard to get into the postseason and have a chance to win the World Series, and when you're out before the postseason even starts, it's extremely disappointing."
David DeJesus stroked a solo homer among his three hits and finished with two RBI, while James Loney went 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored for the Rays, who won their sixth straight to remain one game ahead of Cleveland for the first wild-card spot in the AL.
"I feel like we feel pretty confident as a group," Longoria said. "But at the same time, we can't let that kind of skew our view of how we need to play these four games. Every one of them is going to be just as important as the next."
David Price (9-8) struck out eight without walking a batter and held the Yankees to two runs on six hits over seven strong innings to snap a five-start winless skid.
Eduardo Nunez smacked a solo homer and scored twice for the Yankees.
Phil Hughes (4-14), pressed into duty when CC Sabathia was shut down for the season after injuring his hamstring in his last start, gave up three runs on seven hits in just two-plus innings to fall to 0-7 over his last 13 starts.
Ivan Nova will take the ball for the Yankees on Thursday, as he tries to follow up the second shutout of his career his last time out. Nova blanked the San Francisco Giants on Saturday and improved to 9-5 to go along with a 3.13 ERA.
Nova, though, is 0-2 in three starts against the Rays, who will counter with Alex Cobb. The righty has won his last two starts and is coming off a brilliant effort against the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday that saw him surrender one run in 8 1/3 innings to run his overall record to 10-3 to go along with a 2.90 ERA.
"I love having the ball in these games," Cobb said. "It's a skill set. ... You have to learn and anticipate the nerves you're going to have, and you have to channel them in a way to not let them affect you, but to have them help you when you go out there."
He is 3-1 with a 2.34 ERA in six starts versus the Yankees.
Tampa has taken 11 of its 18 matchups with the Yankees this season.
09/26 10:39:45 ET